Daisy Walker’s journey with the Healing Power of Horses 

London-based photographer and director Daisy Walker shares a lifelong love of horses with Stella, having been riding since childhood and turning to these sensitive creatures as a source of emotional escapism and support. As part of our Healing Power of Horses campaign, she introduces us to her beloved boys, William and Bilbo, whilst wearing Winter 2023 pieces.  

Shot at her horses’ stable in Epping, Daisy tells us about how she rescued William from a serious pre-existing injury – and he saved her in return.

Read more below.


How old are William and Bilbo, and when did they come into your lives? 

William is 10; we bought him a year ago. He was an experienced showjumper and was meant to help me get back into competing after a 15-year hiatus. Bilbo is 5 and we got him as a 4-year-old, 7 months ago. After witnessing with William how wrong it can go because of early mistakes, made by his previous owner, we wanted to get a youngster at the very start of their life and do it right. William's injury could have been avoided but a mix of pushing him too young and poor shoeing led to a massive issue. 

Can you go into more detail about William and his backstory and recovery? 

After only a month with us, William went lame. It took 4 months for us to uncover the issue; collateral ligament damage in both front feet. The scans made it clear that this is something he had been suffering with for a long time and either the previous owners hadn't bothered to notice or had known and carried on anyway. 


We followed vet advice and began treatment alongside box rest, when the horse is confined to the stable. After a month, I looked in William's eye and didn't see the horse I’d fallen in love with anymore. In an attempt to heal him, we had pushed him beyond his limits, and he was deeply unhappy. The yard manager told us to put him down; he was now dangerous and wouldn't ‘do the job we bought him for anyway.’ 


I had made a vow to William; that we would be his forever family, something which is sadly quite rare in the horse world. We had to honour that vow and do our best for him. In the end, I decided to end the treatment and turn him away to live out in a field, just being a horse. I reasoned that his happiness was worth more to me than anything else. We took off his shoes and changed our whole view on horsemanship.  


A year later, William is now sound, happy and back to that horse I fell in love with. He has a love that extends to friends, family and my husband, who he is teaching to ride. In essence, the only treatment that worked for him was time, patience and taking him back to nature. 

You have described William as your heart horse. Can you tell us more about that? 

'Heart horse' is a saying in the horse world. You're lucky if you get one in a lifetime; a horse that completely sees you and is a bond like no other. I have never once felt unsafe on William. Even when he was bucking and rearing during his treatment and the vets and grooms were scared to handle him, he would always walk calmly for me. I think he chose me as his person, as much as I chose him. He breaks me open in a way few people can, holds space for my tears and offers me something solid and steady.  

How have horses helped you to heal?  

I had a traumatic childhood, and home wasn't always a safe space. It wasn't something I could tell anyone or escape, but horses gave me a sanctuary. I had a room to call one's own; it was outdoors and working alongside 650kg animals. It was a space I was safe in and learnt to handle myself from a very young age.  


Horses aren't complicated like people, but they are a mirror to our own feelings. They match their heartbeats to those around them; it's how they can sense danger in a herd without ever seeing the threat. Horses force you to reflect on what you are bringing that day; be it anxiety, stress, frustration – you have to take a breath and reduce your own heartrate in order to lower theirs.  


Working with horses again has taught me to live more with the land and have an appreciation for small things, like having an animal once deemed dangerous and terrified of people touching his face now leaning his whole head into your arms and closing his eyes for a moment. Healing William has in many ways healed me.  

Discover more at healingpowerofhorses.com and shop the collaboration’s limited-edition Falabella below, supporting The Chopra Foundation and equine therapy centres globally. 

All images shot by Daisy Walker.